President Pratibha Patil on Saturday said it is “intolerable” to see the country’s foodgrains stocks not finding adequate storage space and urged the agricultural universities to evolve new scientific methods for addressing the problem.
“Universities can help by actively evolving new scientific methods of ....warehousing”, Ms. Patil said addressing the 45th convocation of the University of Agriculture Sciences (UAS), in Bangalore.
She called for a coordinated action to step up storage facilities.
Currently, the government’s godowns are overflowing with over 65 million tonnes of foodgrains against the available storage level of slightly over 62 million tonnes.
“In a country where food security is yet to be achieved, a situation where food stocks are inappropriately stored is intolerable. ...food storage limitations have to be addressed squarely by augmenting storage facilities,” Ms. Patil said.
She also suggested a decentralised system of warehousing which could make food distribution not only easier and quicker, but also a low cost option that cuts wastage while transporting foodgrains.
The country is facing storage crunch in view of bumper production and procurement last year.
The country is estimated to have harvested a record 241.56 million tonnes of foodgrains in the 2010-11 crop year (July—June) and aims to achieve 245 million tonnes of production this year.
The President observed that though the country is self-reliant in cereal production, it still depends on imports for pulses and edible oils.
As a result, ”…we now need a second Green Revolution” because ensuring food security and elimination of hunger is a national responsibility, she said.
In order to achieve the second Green Revolution, Ms. Patil said the country should gear up to bridge gaps in agricultural support systems, focus on dry-land farming, use technology in agriculture and adopt an integrated approach in farming.
She said that a strictly sectoral approach to agriculture will not be sufficient and called for a greater integration with other sectors of the country.
“Industry and the services sector must reach out to develop linkages with agriculture for end-to-end operations,” she said, adding that agriculture universities should encourage their students to prepare business models as part of the curriculum to tap resources from different sectors.
“I hope that agriculture universities and institutions will work with corporate sector to come forward with viable models,” she added.
Pointing out that the potential of agriculture sector is not yet fully realised, Ms. Patil said both centre and State governments should bring policy changes to give boost to rain-fed farming.
She also mentioned that both farmers and private companies have to be incentivised to enhance farm production and profitability under rain-fed farming.
As far as dry land farming is concerned, about 45 per cent of the total foodgrains production and 80 per cent of pulses and seeds in the country are covered under it.
The President also presented gold medals to 34 students at the UAS convocation ceremony.
The President,who interacted with the State government and corporate sector, suggested that universities can be an effective interface to provide knowledge for public-private-people partnership to usher in a paradigm shift in the agriculture sector.
She reminded people that development of the agriculture sector was important, relevant and significant for overall development of people, as well as for their food security and livelihood opportunities.
“It is a sector whose full potential is yet to be realized. Hence, multi-dimensional development is a priority task and work related to agricutlure production, productivity and sustainability needs to be undertaken with a sense of mission and without any delay”, she said.